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From Simple to Spectacular (Posted On: Wednesday, May 13, 2015)

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A major reno and addition transformed this country cabin from a rustic weekend getaway to a stunning full-time home

Julie and Roy Suarez's Singhampton country house isn't what it used to be. Not that you'd notice as you drive up their winding laneway. Because from the outside, little about the modest cedar-clad house the couple purchased 15 years ago appears to have changed.

Nestled on five wooded acres, its dimensions look as unassuming as ever. But step inside and instead of a comfortable cabin in the woods, you enter a spacious family home, much grander than you would ever have imagined.

The illusion is deliberate. The Suarezes knew when they bought the house that someday they would make it their permanent home. And that day has come. With their son and daughter away at school in the United States, Julie and Roy recently downsized to a small condominium in Toronto where Roy still has his dental practice. But for all intents and purposes, what was once a weekend getaway is now their primary residence.

Before that change could take place, however, the couple needed to make some changes. They asked architectural designer Jim Campbell of Rockside Campbell Design in Duntroon to turn their house into a home without compromising its scale or character.

The Suarezes wanted to significantly increase their living space by adding a sunroom, a new kitchen and great room to the existing 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom (plus one), storey-and-a-half structure.

The challenges were significant, says Campbell. For one thing, the land the house sits on is very wet, which limited where an addition could be built. Then there was the problem of how to blend the new with the old.

"With a house like this," says Campbell, "you can't really have a starkly contrasting addition the way you might with a Victorian farmhouse. A blatantly modernist addition would not have worked; there's not enough contrast. We decided it would be best to carry on with a version of the existing house." To that end, Campbell and the builder, Richard Talbot of Creemore, covered the 1,000-square-foot addition with the same cedar shakes as the rest of the house. And because the new wing has been added at the rear of the building, it is nearly invisible from the front.

"From the outside you would have no idea of the expansive interior that has made a huge difference in terms of liveability," says Campbell.
He also had to figure out how to make a visually seamless interior transition from the cosy eight-foot ceilings of the existing living room and dining room to the vaulted barn-like openness of the new space.

The beating heart of the house is now the airy great room and open kitchen with cathedral-like ceilings. Large criss-crossed beams suspended like medieval sculptures above the seating and cooking areas reduce the scale of the room without compromising its expansiveness. Julie saw something similar in a design magazine, and Campbell had Talbot, who is an accomplished carpenter, build them from scratch. The structures, which double as giant light fixtures with halogen lights nestled at the intersection of each cross piece, have the substantial appearance of iron eyebeams. In fact, Richard made them from MDF painted black.

Read more of this article in On The Bay Magazine by clicking here.

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